Verse 16. When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. As kings display their skill and power and wealth in the erection of their capitals, so would the Lord reveal the splendour of his attributes in the restoration of Zion, and so will he now glorify himself in the edification of his church. Never is the Lord more honourable in the eyes of his saints than when he prospers the church. To add converts to her, to train these for holy service, to instruct, illuminate, and sanctify the brotherhood, to bind all together in the bonds of Christian love, and to fill the whole body with the energy of the Holy Spirit -- this is to build up Zion. Other builders do but puff her up, and their wood, hay, and stubble come to an end almost as rapidly as it was heaped together; but what the Lord builds is surely and well done, and redounds to his glory. Truly, when we see the church in a low state, and mark the folly, helplessness, and indifference of those who profess to be her builders; and, on the other hand, the energy, craft, and influence of those opposed to her, we are fully prepared to own that it will be a glorious work of omnipotent grace should she ever rise to her pristine grandeur and purity.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 16. When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. So sincere is God to his people, that he gives his own glory in hostage to them for their security; his own robes of glory are locked up in their prosperity and salvation: he will not, indeed he cannot, present himself in all his magnificence and royalty, till he hath made up his intended thoughts of mercy to his people; he is pleased to prorogue the time of his appearing in all his glory to the world till he hath actually accomplished their deliverance, that he and they may come forth together in their glory on the same day: "When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory." The sun is ever glorious in the most cloudy day, but appears not so till it hath scattered the clouds that muffle it up from the sight of the lower world: God is glorious when the world sees him not: but his declarative glory then appears, when the glory of his mercy, truth and faithfulness break forth in his people's salvation. Now, what shame must this cover thy face with, O Christian, if thou shouldst not sincerely aim at thy God's glory, who loves thee, yea, all his children so dearly, as to ship his own glory and your happiness in one bottom, that he cannot now lose the one, and save the other! William Gumall.
Verse 16. When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. There are two reasons why the Lord appears thus glorious in this work rather than in any other. First, because it is a work that infinitely pleaseth him. Men choose to appear in their clothes and behaviour suitable to the work that they are to be employed in: the woman of Tekoah must feign herself to be a mourner when she goes on a mournful message; and David, when he goes on a doleful journey, covers his face, and puts on mourning apparel; but when Solomon is to be crowned, he goes in all his royalty; and a bride adorns herself gloriously when she is to be married: verily so doth the Lord, when he goes about a work he takes no pleasure in, he puts on his mourning apparel, he covers himself with a cloud and the heavens with blackness; when he is to do a strange work of judgment, then he mourns, "How shall I give thee up Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together." Hosea 11:8 . But the building of Zion doth infinitely please him, because Zion is as the apple of his eye to him; he bought Zion at a dear rate, with his own blood; he lays Zion in his bosom, he is ravished with Zion, Zion is his love, his dove, his fair one; he hath chosen Zion, and loves the gates of it, better than all the palaces of Jacob; and being so pleasing to him, no marvel if he put on all his glorious apparel when he is to adorn and build up Zion. And, secondly, it is because all the glory that he looks for to eternity must arise out of this one work of building Zion; this one work shall be the only monument of his glory to eternity: this goodly world, this heaven and earth, that you see and enjoy the use of, is set up only as a shop, as a workshop, to stand only for a week, for six or seven thousand years, ("a thousand years is with the Lord but as a day"); and when his work is done he will throw this piece of clay down again, and out of this he looks for no other glory than from a cabul, a land of dirt, or a shepherd's cottage, or a gourd which springs up in a night and withers in a day; but this piece he sets up for a higher end, to be the eternal mansion of his holiness and honour; this is his metropolis, his temple, his house where his fire and furnace is, his court, his glorious high throne, and therefore his glory is much concerned in this work. When Nebuchadnezzar would have a city for the honour of his kingdom, and the glory of his majesty, he will make it a stately piece. Solomon made all his kingdom very rich and glorious, but he made his court, and especially his throne, another manner of thing, so stately that the like was not to be seen in any other kingdom; and therefore no wonder though he appear in his glory in building up of that, which we may boldly say must be one day made as glorious as his wisdom can contrive, and his power bring to pass. Stephen Marshall, in a Sermon preached to the Right Honourable the House of Peers, entitled "God's Master-Piece," 1645.
Verse 16-17. Shall build -- shall appear -- will regard -- and will not despise. These futures, in the original, are all present; buildeth -- appeareth -- regardeth -- and despiseth not. The Psalmist, in his confidence of the event, speaks of it as doing. Samuel Horsley.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 16. God is Zion's purchaser, architect, builder, inhabitant, Lord.
- Zion built up. Conversions frequent; confessions numerous; union firm; edification solid; missions extended.
- God glorified. In its very foundation; by its ministry; by difficulties and enemies; by poor workers, and poor materials; and even by our failures.
- Hope excited. Because we may expect the Lord to glorify himself.
- Inquiry suggested. Am I concerned, as built, or building? not merely doctrinally, but experimentally?